"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Among AFI's Movies of the Year Selections! 


Now that "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has been released, we can all go back to Awards Season chatter. First stop, oh wait, it's about "Star Wars" again! The J.J. Abrams flick is one of the chosen ones by the American Film Institute for their yearly AFI Awards! According to them, AFI Awards "aren’t like other accolades about the art form — they acknowledge the importance of the collaborative nature of film and TV production and bring together the community’s creative teams, both in front of and behind the camera."

And now, without further adieu, here are the AFI Awards 2015 Official Selections:

MOVIES OF THE YEAR

THE BIG SHORT
BRIDGE OF SPIES
CAROL
INSIDE OUT
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
THE MARTIAN
ROOM
SPOTLIGHT
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON

TV PROGRAMS OF THE YEAR

THE AMERICANS
BETTER CALL SAUL
BLACK-ISH
EMPIRE
FARGO
GAME OF THRONES
HOMELAND
MASTER OF NONE
MR. ROBOT
UNREAL

AFI SPECIAL AWARD

MAD MEN

And here's the rest of the press release:

The landmark series MAD MEN, which aired its final episodes this year, has been recognized with an AFI Special Award for its contributions to America’s cultural legacy. During its run, the series made the AFI AWARDS list a total of seven times — more than any other TV program in the history of the awards.

Honorees will gather on January 8, 2016 at the AFI AWARDS private luncheon, a noncompetitive and intimate event where AFI will reveal the jury rationales for each selection.


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Why I'm Saying "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Is Among the Best Movies of the Year! 


I tried my best to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible! You have to see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” with a fresh perspective to truly admire J.J. Abrams’ craftsmanship! But I’m so glad that Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford are back in their respective roles as Leia, Luke, and Han Solo. And Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Domnhall Gleeson (General Hux), John Boyega (Finn), and Daisy Ridley (Rey) are welcome additions to the cast.

So is the force strong with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens?” Take a look at my review:



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Just Saw "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and Here's What I Think! 
Our reviews are embargoed until tomorrow, Wednesday, so meanwhile, here's what I think of the J.J.Abrams-directed film! I saw the movie early in the morning at the Walt Disney Studios Lot in Burbank. So here's my non-verbal reaction to "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."



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Matt Damon to Receive Chairman's Award at 27th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala 


Matt Damon, who was so good in carrying "The Martian," is being honored at the upcoming Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF). He will join previously announced honorees Cate Blanchett, Johnny Depp, Michael Fassbender, Brie Larson, Rooney Mara, Tom McCarthy, Saoirse Ronan and Alicia Vikander. Here's the full press release from PSIFF:

Palm Springs, CA (December 15, 2015) – The 27th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present Matt Damon with the Chairman’s Award at its annual Awards Gala. This year’s Awards Gala will be hosted by Mary Hart on Saturday, January 2 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The Festival runs January 1-11.

“Since his breakthrough role in Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon has taken on a series of challenging roles through his career,” said Film Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. “In his latest film, The Martian, Damon dazzles yet again as Mark Watney, an astronaut desperately trying to survive on Mars, yet still finding a way to laugh and bring hope to an impossible situation. It is an honor to present Matt Damon with the 2016 Chairman’s Award.”

The Martian director, Ridley Scott, will present Matt Damon with his award.

Past recipients of the Chairman’s Award include Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Richard Gere, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.

In The Martian, a manned mission to Mars is aborted and astronaut Mark Watney (Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm. Left behind by his crew, however, Watney has improbably survived and must draw upon his ingenuity and spirit to subsist and find a way to send a signal back to Earth. Once aware that he is alive, NASA works to overcome the challenges of both physics and public relations, enlisting his crewmates in a daring if not impossible rescue mission. Directed by Ridley Scott from the best-selling novel by Andy Weir, The Martian features a star-studded cast including Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Donald Glover, Mackenzie Davis and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Matt Damon has been honored for his work on both sides of the camera. For his role in The Martian, he recently received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor - Musical or Comedy and a Best Actor honor from the National Board of Review. Previously he received an Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award and SAG® and BAFTA® nominations for his performance in Stephen Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra. Damon also earned numerous nominations, including for an Academy Award® and Golden Globe, for his portrayal of South African rugby hero Francois Pienaar in Invictus, as well as a Golden Globe nomination for his starring role in Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant! Damon won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay and received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his breakthrough feature Good Will Hunting.

His other film credits include Monuments Men, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, the Ocean’s Eleven trilogy films, Elysium, Promised Land, We Bought a Zoo, True Grit, The Adjustment Bureau, Happy Feet 2, Contagion, Hereafter, Green Zone, The Departed, The Good Shepherd, Syriana, Mystic Pizza, School Ties, Geronimo: An American Legend, The Good Old Boys, Courage Under Fire, The Rainmaker, Saving Private Ryan, Rounders, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Dogma, The Legend of Bagger Vance, All the Pretty Horses and The Brothers Grimm.

The Gala will also present awards to previously announced honorees Cate Blanchett, Johnny Depp, Michael Fassbender, Brie Larson, Rooney Mara, Tom McCarthy, Saoirse Ronan and Alicia Vikander.

About The Palm Springs International Film Festival
The Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) is one of the largest film festivals in North America, welcoming 135,000 attendees last year for its lineup of new and celebrated international features and documentaries. The Festival is also known for its annual Black Tie Awards Gala, honoring the best achievements of the filmic year by a celebrated list of talents who, in recent years, have included Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey, Julianne Moore, Brad Pitt, Eddie Redmayne, Julia Roberts, David O. Russell, Meryl Streep, and Reese Witherspoon.


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Phoenix Critics Circle Nominees 


And here are the nominees for the 2015 Phoenix Critics Circle:

2015 NOMINEES

BEST PICTURE

Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Room
Spotlight

BEST COMEDY FILM
The Big Short
Dope
Joy
Spy
Trainwreck

BEST SCIENCE FICTION FILM
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian

BEST MYSTERY OR THRILLER FILM

Bridge of Spies
Sicario
Spotlight

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Anomalisa
Inside Out
The Peanuts Movie
Shaun the Sheep

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
The Assassin
White God
Youth

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Amy
Best of Enemies
Cartel Land
He Named My Malala
Listen to Me Marlon

BEST HORROR FILM
Bone Tomahawk
Crimson Peak
It Follows
Unfriended

BEST MUSICAL
Amy
Pitch Perfect 2
Straight Outta Compton

BEST ACTOR
Michael Caine, Youth
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Marion Cotillard, Macbeth
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Brie Larson, Room
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Richard Jenkins, Bone Tomahawk
Michael Keaton, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Jacob Tremblay, Room

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

BEST DIRECTOR
Alex Garland, Ex Machina
Alejandro Inarritu, The Revenant
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Ridley Scott, The Martian
Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight

BEST SCREENPLAY
Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Bridge of Spies
Alex Garland, Ex Machina
Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer, Spotlight
Charles Randolph, Adam McKay, The Big Short
Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs

BEST SCORE

Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL, Mad Max: Fury Road
Jóhann Jóhannsson, Sicario
Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
Thomas Newman, Bridge of Spies

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